DND chief renews call for withdrawal of Chinese vessels, vows more patrol ships in WPS

“I assure our people that we are addressing the situation. We stand by our position calling for the immediate withdrawal of Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef, which was communicated to the Chinese Ambassador,” Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement.

“We are ready to defend our national sovereignty and protect the marine resources of the Philippines. There will be an increased presence of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard ships to conduct sovereignty patrols and protect our fishermen in the West Philippine Sea,” Secretary Lorenzana said.

“A Philippine Navy ship and a Philippine Coast Guard [ship] are currently in the area monitoring the actual situation there. The PAF (Philippine Air Force) deploys an element of AS211 jet aircraft every day with the same mission. Our air and sea assets are ready to protect our sovereignty in the WPS and KIG,” he noted.

He added that the DND is “coordinating with other agencies like the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Aquatic and Fisheries Resources to coordinate our efforts in the WPS and the Kalayaan Island Group (municipality of Pag-asa).”

“By securing the West Philippine Sea and its islands in the Kalayaan area, the Philippines reinforces its commitment to keeping the freedom of navigation and maintaining regional peace and stability,” Lorenzana said.